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Butch too much for his rivals at Cheltenham

OLLY Murphy is already dreaming of next season when Butch tackles a fence, but he might have plenty more days to celebrate before that moment comes judging by his latest success in the Paddy Power Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day, reports Graham Clark.

Arriving on the back of wins at Southwell and on the Old Course at Cheltenham in October the gelded son of Kayf Tara made it a hat-trick of victories for the season much to the delight of Wilmcote handler Murphy when showing the best of his battling abilities in the three-mile test.

One of a host of horses still in with a chance at the last the 7/2 chance made the best of his way home under James Bowen after putting in a solid leap at the final flight where favourite, and eventual third, Ed Keeper blundered away his chance of victory.

Butch, ridden by James Bowen, wins The Paddy Power Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham. Photo: The Jockey Club.
Butch, ridden by James Bowen, wins The Paddy Power Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham. Photo: The Jockey Club.

Although My Bobby Dazzler threw down a serious challenge during the climb to the line Butch continued to stick his head out when asked for his maximum effort by Bowen, who was also successful on the Nicky Henderson-trained Peaky Boy, before obliging by a neck.

Murphy said: “He is a big shell of a horse and there is loads of improvement. I said to my assistant Ger (Tumelty) while watching it that I cannot wait until he jumps a fence next season.

“He has got a great attitude. I love this horse. I don’t like talking horses up, but if they all had an attitude like he has then it would be great.

“There will be three horses in that race that will be graded horses in 12 months’ time. It was a strong race and I’m delighted.

“He is obviously a real strong stayer that is a big honest horse by Kayf Tara who is crying out for a fence.

“I can’t wait for next season, and I couldn’t give a hoot about this season. He has had a great season and won two races around here for his owners (the McNeill and Ralston families).

“I like how he wins. If the second horse had come to him 100 yards earlier he would have just gone again. He has got a great attitude and I’m chuffed.”

An outing at Grade Two level in the Betfred Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock Park on 17th February could be next on the agenda for Butch according to Murphy.

He added: “He is tough as old boots. I will not bottom this horse, and he will come nowhere near this place in March, all be it he has a love for this place. He is a horse for next season.

“He has won twice around here, and he has given his owners an awful lot of fun. I don’t know where the ceiling is.

“I will probably go to Haydock Park for the Rendlesham. As daft as it sounds that could be him then done. If he was to have a spring target you could potentially look at Aintree.”

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